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he bought of Ephron, (Gen. xxiii.) “Let me die the death of the where no one bui Sarah had been bu- righteous"—that is of the Israelites, ried before him. Jacob was "gath- “and let my last end be like his," ered to his people” in Egypt; and (Num. xxiii. 10.) Balaam had been "buried” long after, in the cave of called by Balak io curse Israel. But in Machpelah, (xlix. 33, and I. 13.) speaking “the word put into his
A belief oì the soul's existence af- mouth" by God, he pronounced upon ter death is farther evident from the them a blessing; and says, that their practice of necromancy; against which death will be such, as he wishes his it was found necessary to enact very own to be That is, as some interpret severe laws, (Deut. xviii. 10–12. the passage, “ The Israelites will die Lev. xx. 6.) No man, however su- after lives of prosperity and happiperstitious, would be so inconsistent Dess—So let me die.” It must be acwith himself, as to think of raising knowled, that the series of the disthe dead, and enquiring of then con- course favours this interpretation. It cerning secret things; while he did must also be acknowledged, that the pot believe them to exist.
language of Balaam is not the obvious Whether the future was supposed mode of expressing temporal prosperto be a state of retribution, is less ity; and that the expressions-Let clearly revealed in the Pentateuch. me die the death, and let my last end, No account of the place of residence argue forcibly, that the good derived of the dead is given, from which this was beyond the boundary of human can be inferred. A few passages, life. which favour the opinion that the “ Ye shall not cut yourselves, nor righteous will be happy, are worthy of make any baldness between your observation.
eyes for the dead; for the Lord bath “ Enoch walked with God, and he chosen you to be a peculiar people was not, for God took him, (Gen. v. unto himself, above all the nations 24.) The accounts of all the others that are upon the earth,” (Deut. xiv. contained in the chapter, end uniform. 1-2.) If the favour of God were ly with ng'. They are a simple not extended to the dead, this vould story of their birth, their children, be a reason why, by his “peculiar and their death. The historian had people,” death should the more be told the years of Enoch's life—and deprecated. turns aside to give his moral char We have seen from the Pentateuch, acter; tells us, he walked with God, that the ancient Hebrews hoped to ex12381, and was not"_" he was gone” ist after death; and have gained some (I. Kings, xx. 40) --" for God took evidence, that they hoped the righthim.” This mode of his departure is eous would be happy. Whether their represented as a consequence of his prevailing ideas of the future were in piety. But longevity was esteemed a any good degree definite, it is not easy precious blessing, and a token of tbe to determine. Future happiness is special favour of God, (Gen. xxv. 8. not represented as a solace in afilieEx. xx. 12. Lev. xix. 32.) Hence, tion; nor future punishment, as a terGod's “taking away" ihe pious rour to evil doers. Paul, in the midst Enoch, before he had “ attained to” of trial, desired to "depart and be half “the years of his fathers,” with Christ.” Jacob,“ rent his clothes strongly implies, that he removed him and put sackcloth on his loins-refuto a more happy state of being. sed to be comforted; and said, I will
“I am the God of Abraham, the go down into sheol unto my son mournGod of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” ing." (Ex. iii. 6.) I am their God-their 2. From the Pentateuch to the father and friend-implying that they book of Job. still existed; and that the kindness of As the book of Job is probably very God was still extended to them. ancient, it may be well to deviate from
the arrangement of our translation, so xxxv. 12, 21, and Job xvi. 19) and far as to notice it next in order to the that he will at length " arise from the Pentateuch. From this book, some dust--appear as my deliverer. And passages have been adduced as affirm- though my body be now wasted by ing, and others, as denying, a future disease, it will revivemy flesh will state of retribution. Of the former be restored--and God will appear for class, the most conspicuous passage me and not for you ;-- he will decide is Job xix. 25—26. “I know that this controversy in my favour, (com. my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall pare chap. xlii. 7-17.) Wherefore stand at the latter day upon the earth. refrain from persecuting me, lest God And though after my skin (worms] be angry and ye be puoished.” destroy this body, yet in my flesh The intermediate books from the shall I see God." The passage seems
Pentateuch to Job, contain few passato many pot only to indicate a hope ges which throw important light on of future happiness ; but of the resur our subject. David laments over Saul, rection of the body; and of redemp- and Jonathan, and Absalom, withtion through the mediation of Christ. out saying a word of their condition "I know that I have a Redeemer, the after death;(II. Sam. i. 17–27, and Messiah; and that he will appear at xviii. 33) and when the child of Baththe day of judgment. And though sheba died, his submissive language this body be utterly consumed, yet in gives but an uncertain view of the futhat flesh with which I shall be cloth- ture--"Now he is dead, wherefore ed at the resurrection, I shall see God." should I fast? Can I bring him back But to this interpretation there are ob- again? I shall go to him, but he shall jections. The words rendered “ Re- not return to me, (II. Sam. xii. 23.) deemer,” and “latter day,” have no The raising of Samuel confirms certain reference to the Messiah, or the argument already drawn from neday of judgment. And that spiritual cromancy; (I. Sam. xxvii. 11-19.) body, (I. Cor. xv. 44) which will be and the translation of Elijah, (IT. raised,can hardly be called wa(flesh.) Kings ii. 1-18, while it supports Or will it be said, that "latter day the common view of Enoch's deparrefers to the time of Christ's advent; ture, gives new force to the argument and that's should be translated thence derived, by the peculiar defi"without my flesh?” That is, through niteness of the narration. The scepthe mediation of Christ, my spirit, af- tic may reject the story of Elijah; ter the dissolution of the body, will but the attending circumstances are enjoy God.” This interpretation, if so numerous, and so explicitly relathe original admitted it, gives indeed ted; that it is impossible to question a delightful view of the future. But what view the sacred historian intenmust not such a flood of light, burst- ded to convey. ing on a sudden from a book which is 3. The Psalms. perhaps more dark in relation to the Ps. xvi. 8-11. “I have set the future, than any other in the Old Tes. Lord always before me: because he cament, diminish our_confidence in is at my right hand, I shall not be this interpretation? The bright ave- moved. Therefore my heart is glad, nue is soon closed. The next verse my flesh also shall rest in hope; for falls heavily upon the ear. “Whom I thou wilt not leave me in sheol, neishall see for myself, and mine eyes ther wilt thou suffer thine holy One to shall behold, and not another.” The see corruption. Thou wilt shew me following interpretation renders the the path of life: in thy presence is parts of the whole passage mpre con- fullness of joy; at thy right hand are sistent; and agrees better with the pleasures for evermore.” This vivid original, and the series of the discourse. and accumulated description of happi“ į know that God is my 581, myness in the presence of God can hardavenger, my vindicator, (See Nun. ly be accounted for on the ground ta.
ken by some reputable critics, that world proving worthless, and the the passage is spoken by David con- wicked laid like sheep in the grave; cerning himself; and that its whole the upright shall have dominion meaning is this : “ Thou wilt prolong over them? It is the wicked, who are my temporal life, and make me hap- here said to prosper “ in this life ;** py in the enjoyment of it!"-Is it the and it is the obvious design of the genius of Hebrew poetry to paint the writer to shew that, notwithstanding events of this life by imagery drawn this, their portion is unenviable, for from the invisible world ?-Since then they must soon die-while the rightthe passage is ioapplicable to David, eous have a better hope, that will not for he saw corruption"-are we not be disappointed. We cannot admit, compelled to suppose it a prediction that future happiness is no where else of the Messiah ? and a description of acckgowledged by the Psalmist; and the pleasures which are really to be that hence, the passages to which we enjoyed in the presence of God, be- have referred must be interpreted, as yond the grave.
relating solely to this world. We Ps. xvii. 13-15. “Deliver me must believe, that they throw such from the wicked, O Lord, from men light on the future, as we have been of the world, who have their portion unable to discover in the books, to in this life-they are full of children, which we have above directed our atand" leave to them their inheritance. tention. But as for me, I will behold thy face 4. The books attributed to Solo in righteousness; I shall be satisfied
mon. when I awake, with thy likeness.” Prov. xiv. 32. “ The wicked is Parallel to this passage is Psalm driven away in his wickedness, but xlix. 14, 15. In both passages, the the righteous hath hope in his death." Psalmist is contrasting the state of Several passages in Ecclesiastes the wicked with that of the right- clearly indicates a notion of a future eous. After showing the folly of state of rewards and punishments. those who trust in riches; and the “Know thou, that for all these things vanity of wealth, which cannot “re- God will bring thee into judgment." deem a brother” from death; he says, “ Then shall the dust return to the (xlix. 14,) “Like sheep the are laid earth as it was; and the spirit shall in the grave; death shall feed on return unto God who gave it.” “God them; and the upright shall have do- shall bring every work into judgment, minion over them
in the morning--their with every secret thing, whether it be beauty shall consume in the grave: good, or whether it be evil.” (xi. 9, but God will redeem my soul from and xii. 7, 13. See also viii. 12, the power of the grave, for he shall 13.) The obscurity of many parts of receive me.”
this book is acknowledged. But how Can we here discover no hope accurately are death and the events of happiness beyond the grave ? But which follow it, described! Who according to some interpreters, the would have written thus, that had no whole meaning of the passages is only idea of a future state of retribution ! this, “God will distinguish me from 5. The Prophets. the wicked by bestowing upon me Isa. xxvi. 14, 19. The Jews reblessings in this life!" With what stored from captivity, sing this song then is the “portion" enjoyed - in to Jehovah; Our enemies « are dead, this life” by “men of the world” they shall not live; they are deceascontrasted? They, says the Psalmist, ed, they shall not rise." But “ thy have their wealth-their numerous dead,” (the Jews] shall live; (their) households--but I shall be satisfied, dead bodies shall arise. Awake and when I awake with thy likeness. Must sing, ye that dwell in the dust : for no! this awaking be after death? tby dew (Jehovah] is as the dew of When it is that, the wealth of this herbs"--divine influence shall raise
them to life and the earth shall refers only to “victory or defeat in cast out the dead.” In this passage, battle!” What Christian writer has says Lowth, “the deliverance of the used language more exalted, or more people of God from a state of the impressive, concerning the future lowest depression, is explained by world! images, plainly taken from the resur In the Prophets, the events of the rection of the dead: hence, the doc- future are evidently more clearly retrine of the resurrection was at that vealed, than in the earlier books of time a common and popular doctrine; the Old Testament. And the Hebrew for an image, assumed to represent writings of a later period exhibit ideas another, must be an image commonly still more definite. (See II. Macc. vii. known and understood; otherwise it 9, &c. and xii. 40—45. Wisdom will not answer the purpose for which iii. 1--11, and iv. 7, &c.) it is assumed.” But the doctrine of II. There are passages in the Old the resurrection is so intimately con- Testament, supposed to be inconsisnected with that of a future state of tent with a belief in a future state of retribution, that, if a people were fa- retribution. miliar with the former, they must have Job xiv. 7-12. “There is hope been with the latter.
of a tree, that, if it be cut down, it A similar argument may be drawn will sprout again. But as the waters from the illustrious description of the fail from the sea, and the flood derestoration of the Jews from utter cayeth and drieth up, so man lieth desolation, in the vision of Ezekiel ; down and riseth not; till the heavens (chap. xxxvii. 1, &c.) in which the be no more, they shall not awake, dry bones that overspread the valley, nor be raised out of their sleep." are clothed with flesh, and raised to Ps. vi. 5. “In death there is no life.
remembrance of thee: in the grave, The same remarks are applicable who shall give thee thanks ?” in a peculiar manner, to Daniel xii. Ps. Ixxxviii. 10. “Shall the dead 1-3. “And there shall be a time arise and praise thee?" of trouble, such as never was since Eccl. iii. 9. " That which befalleth there was a nation ;-and at that man, befalleth beasts—as one dieth time, thy people shall be delivered," so dieth the other, yea they have all even "every one that shall be found one breath-All go to one place. written in the book. And many of All are of the dust; and all turn to them that sleep in the dust of the dust again." earth, shall awake; some to everlast If other passages affirm the docing life, and some to shame and ever trine in question, do not these, as exlasting contempt. And they that be plicitly, deny it? It is an obvious wise shall shine, as the brightness of reply, that in respect to man's tempothe firmament; and they that turn ral existence, they are literally true ; many to righteousnes, as the stars for- and it is more than probable, they ever and ever."
were uttered with a view of the desThe book of Daniel doubtless con- truction of the body, and the closing tains many things,“ hard to be under- of all our concerns with this world at stood;" and a free interpretation of death. Christians use similar lanit has perhaps never yet been satis- guage. We say a man dies, and that factorily given. But we cannot turn is the end of him. Even the pious from the passage now cited, by mere Watts declares, that in the grave are ly saying, that it contains an image neither “work, nor device,"
nor taken from the resurrection of the faith, nor hope.” dead. It seems impossible, that such III. Light is thrown on the Old laoguage, found at the end of a book, Testament by the writers of the New, abounding with sublime descriptions It is impossible now to inquire, of God, and of his wonderful works, what were the principles, by which
Christ and his apostles were govern- of the future, no descriptions of God ed, in their quotations from the Old are more elevated; no worship is Testament; or how far the use they more exalted in its nature; no piety have made of it is accommodated to is more fervent. Even the most enthe ignorance and prejudice of their lightened christian of our own time, cotemporaries. A few passages will dwells with rapture on the beautiful be noticed in their plain and obvious and sublime passages in the Psalms import.
and Prophets--they afford him instrucIn the eleventh of Hebrews, we are tion, consolation, and joy; and the told, that,“ by faith Enoch was trans- more he contemplates them, the more lated, that he should not see death; he loves them; and the more readily, and was not found, because God had he acknowledges their divine original. translated him; for before his transla A very important distinction is tion, he had this testimony, that he noticed by the most accurate obserpleased God.” It cannot be doubt. vers of the powers of the human mind ed, that Paul supposed Enoch was in various ages and circumstances, suddenly removed from life to a state between the intellectual character of of happiness on account of his piety. Pagan and Christian authors. The
The same apostle has said, in the views of the former, though perhaps following verses that Abraham "look- equally acute and vivid, are more ed for a city which hath foundations;" limited, more superficial, more con(v. 10,) and that the ancient patri- fined to sensual objects. Those of archs confessed they were stran- the latter are more expanded; they gers and pilgrims on the earth," thus flow from the deep foundations of the < declaring plainly, that they sought soul; they bear the impress of etera better country, that is an heavenly.” nity, which gives a colouring to all (vs. 13-16.)
temporal objects, and throws around The Sadducees were "put to si- them a shade of melancholy. And is lence” by the argument of Christ, there nothing of this in the Old TesMatt. xxii. 23, 24. “As touching tament? Is there nothing of this ju the resurrection of the dead, have ye the nineteenth Psalm, the one hudnot read that which was spoken unto dred and third, the one hundred and you by God, saying, I am the God of thirty-ninth? Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and V. In conclusion, it is evident the the God of Jacob? God is not the sacred writers of the Old Testament God—the patron, the benefactor—of expected to exist after death; and the dead, but of the living."
that their general views of the future IV. The internal character of the were in a good degree just. These Old Testament urges upon us a beliel, views appear in successive revelathat many of the sacred writers look- tions to have become more and more ed forward to the rewards and punish- definite. To suppose that nothing ments of a future life.
remained to be revealed in the New The works of Pagan authors, when. Testament, would seem not only to ever they speak of God, or of a future contradict what is so frequently imstate, abound in absurdity. Not so plied by Christ and his apostles, that the Old Testament. However im- the Gospel is a new and better dispenperfect were the views entertained, sation, and the most precious gift of nothing is exhibited low or mean in heaven; but would diminish its pecuthe character of God—nothing in- liar value in our estimation. consistent with his majesty and glo If it is demanded, why the events ry—oothing trifling or sensual in the of the future are no more explicitly enjoyments or the sufferings of the revealed in the Old Testamenta future. The sacred writers are si- work inspired by God for the benefit lent, or speak what is worthy of Je- of man—the answer is easy, that we hovah. However obscure their view cannot tell.
cannot tell. We might ask in return,